Tuesday, September 2

Just Ramblin, No. 17: Changin' Politics

So people were reveling in the afterglow of Obama's speech and the DNC when McCain made his incredible announcement about Sarah Palin. I wonder what was the land speed record for getting to Google and looking up something, anything on her. Goodness knows the media was incredibly cranky that it knew nothing about her.

I have to say that I was most impressed that the story didn't break until McCain was ready to announce it. Caught everyone by surprise. I was on Plurk with some of my Plurk buddies and some of the Obama supporters threw up their virtual hands almost immediately and suggested the best course of action was to move to Canada. Now THAT surprised me. I was completely taken aback by the response of well-educated folks, black and white, male and female, who with minutes believed that McCain would be elected because he had selected a female VP. And that was without knowing a thing about her!

So now we know a little bit about her. I loved some of the editorial cartoons. One showing Palin dressed for hunting and holding a rifle; the tag line stating she'll be a better VP because she's a better shot than Cheney. We know now that her husband was arrested for DUI when he was in his 20s. Todd Palin and a few million Americans. That morsel didn't interest the media hounds as it got dropped right away. But they are gnawing feverishly on the fact that Bristol Palin, age 17, is pregnant and not married though she and her sweetheart plan to marry. I'm not sure what the media is hoping to wrest from this other than Sarah Palin is a mother who is having to cope with a daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock. We also know that Sarah Palin is a mother of 5 and her youngest has Down's, so we know she is a working mom who knows family hardship and heartbreak. What storm of controversy can the media hope to create?

They've moved on to the whole vetting thing. Did McCain know enough about her before he chose her? After all, they only met in February. Seems like a whirlwind courtship. Maybe he jumped too fast for what seems like the most attractive candidate choice? Shouldn't he have picked someone with a more solid background, even Lieberman. But then the media would have been casting greater aspersions on the man who ran for president as a Democrat and then became a Republican. I thought people could change parties in this country, so what's the point of chasing that down? Again. The media has been strangely quiet about Biden and the plagiarism event that forced him to step down from his own presidential bid in 1987. Surely the Obama folks knew about that in their vetting process but seemed to believe it was sufficiently past tense not to make a difference.

What I found most noteworthy about the media coverage is the need to focus on Hurricane Gustav, especially with a truncated Republican National Convention, and the need to read between all sorts of lines that probably weren't present. But they had air time to fill, so they had to pontificate about something. But I was also bemused by the fact that Obama, somewhat belatedly, suggested he could appeal to his vast Internet network, to raise money for folks in the southeast. Meanwhile, John McCain and Sarah Palin were in the thick of things. Being presidential-like and having a perfect opportunity to reinforce his message that he will put the country first.

I have no idea who will make the better president or the better vice president. Right now I'm way too entertained by the righteous indignation on both sides of the media aisle who are busy dismissing the platforms and the capabilities of the opposition and coming as close as possible excoriating the opposition for the lack or presence of whatever is the offensive topic du jour.

I know I'm not the voice of reason is the blogosphere and media melee, but I would like to remind everyone that the president can do precious little without the support of Congress. So unless Congress changes, not much will change regardless of who is president. And, if I may, Congress had an approval rating of only 18% in May 2008. One of the lowest on record. But then that rating dropped to 14% in July 2008, a record low. What is even more striking to me is that, reported by Gallup with that 14% approval rating is this: "The most recent decline comes almost exclusively from Democrats, whose approval of Congress fell from 23% in June to 11% in July, while independents' and Republicans' views of Congress did not change much. As a result, Republicans are now slightly more likely than Democrats to approve of the job the Democratic-controlled Congress is doing (19% vs. 11%)."

I just wonder why no one in the media is talking about what a crappy job Congress is doing. Is it because 3 of 4 nominees for president and vice president are Senators? And then the media would have to focus specifically on what the candidates have or have not done as politicians, leaders, members of the government? Just askin'.

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